Minimal Guide to ITS CMS SmartForms for Learning Resources

First Things First

If you can log in to the CMS and start editing, then you're already part of the authorized enterprise group and can skip the next paragraph. If not, however, read on.

Before you can edit or add material in the CMS, you need to be added to your Ektron enterprise group's authorized list. For those in ITS, your team lead or manager or director will be able to do this. If you are a team lead, manager, or director, be sure to add yourself to any enterprise group that is authorized for a specific role in using the CMS for your web pages. This is done through the portal, my.nau.edu. Under the Directory Groups tab, the link named Enterprise Groups permits an authorized person to manage enterprise groups and their members. By convention within ITS, the pertinent group will be prefixed with "ITS-" followed by the group name, and then the particular function within the CMS.

Be sure that you're in edit mode by checking that the black bar near the top says "Edit Content in Folder 'Learning Resources'." If not, click the icon of a document with a pencil just below the black bar. This will put you in edit mode.



top

If Your Page Will Use Images or Link to Documents (e.g. Word or PDFs)

If your page will use images or if you will be referencing external documents like Word files or PDF files, please follow the Guide to Getting Your Images, PDFs, and Other Files into CMS for the process steps to load your media into the CMS and then use it in your web pages later.

top

Select a Template for Your Learning Resource Content

When creating a learning resource, you have the choice of two formats for the page: two-column and three-column.
Two-column vs Three-column

Two-column is recommended because it yields wider real estate for images. If you do need the third, right-hand, column for its search, help, related info, and feedback areas, by all means use it instead, but be aware that any images you select must be 450 pixels wide or less, or they will be partially covered by that third column.

To select which template to use, click on the Templates tab.


Tab field to select two-column or three-column
Click on the dropdown for Template. Select ITS/Resource.aspx for the three-column page template, or ITS/Resource_full.aspx for the two-column version which gives you more space for images.

top

Content Tab

Content Tab for Learning Resources
Click the blue plus mark next to the Text Block to expand the block and reveal its sections. Each of the blue plus marks can be clicked to expand that area of the text block. You may only need one or two of these areas, for example, the Text field and the Image. One tip is to note the placement of the image block above the text block in a section. In order to place images precisely where you want them in a given content block, you can use as many text blocks as you need, using some to contain only an image and other only the text, depending on your desired arrangement. It will seem awkward at first, but after a little experience with placement, you'll find that you can easily organize content to appear just as you like it. While the form at first appears rather rigid, by generous use of sections, subsections, and text blocks, you can exert a great deal of control while simultaneously giving an overall consistent look and feel to your material.

Title

The title should be as short as possible and yet as specific to the topic as possible so that a user can tell if this is the information needed without linking to the full page. Titles do matter! A good way to get to a title is to first ask, "What is this about?" and then refine it through several iterations of the question, "More specifically?"

Section Table of Contents

If you have a number of topics covered on your page, you can check this box to have the CMS generate a table of contents from your section headers for each text block. This enables your reader to quickly scan the content by clicking on a topic to jump right to that section of your page and then, after reading, the reader can return to the top through a direct link, with all links generated all automatically. Each section gets an entry into the table of contents. This page you are reading is an example of a learning resource with the table of contents enabled. Try it out. If you have a large topic with many sections, you might find that this feature will help to organize your subject for your readers.

Section Header

This is not required, but if you have enabled "Section Table of Contents" this is the text that will be in that table of contents as well as at the start of the section. Please note that adding a section, rather than a subsection, required clicking at the very bottom of the window on the blue plus symbol next to the word "Section," or, alternatively, clicking on the small dropdown icon next to the word "Section" at the head of every section.

Text Block

A text block contains your fundamental content. It may have a header, if desired, as well as an image, multimedia, caption file, and/or streaming media. At least one text block is required to contain content.

Sub-Section

Text blocks can be further subdivided into subsections, each with its own optional header. These headers, however, do not appear in the section header table of contents.

Sub-Section Header

Not required, but this can be useful for further refining topics within a text block section.

Image

Images are optional. To be used, they must first be added to the CMS library as objects.

MultiMedia

Multimedia content is optional.

Text

At a minimum, the text block should have a text field—after all, this must constitute the bare minimum of content in any learning resources page.

Make the text similar to the structure of a newspaper article—the inverted pyramid—with the most important information at the top of the piece. You can include as much detail as you need, but imagine that your reader is trying to solve his or her problem as fast as possible. Does this page solve it? What are the links to other related solutions and learning resources? For those who are indeed interested in more background material, you can give them whatever they need in following paragraphs, as well as associated implementations, which may be related to the topic, and other associated learning resources.

If your text field seems to be awfully long, it might help to use to use additional sections and subsections to organize the material.


Caption File

For any streaming, video, or audio media, you can include a caption file that will present the audio as text for those who speak a different language or are hearing-impaired.  


Streaming Media

Optionally, streaming media like video and audio may be added to the subsection by clicking the "Enable Streaming" checkbox and adding the source information for the media file.

top

Summary Tab

Learning Resource Summary Tab
Keep this short and punchy—no longer than 30 or so words. The summary is what will show up in search results. Quite often you can simply extract it from your description, but shorten it as much as possible by eliminating modifiers and extraneous explanation. 

top

Metadata Tab

Learning Resource Metadata Tab

Related Content

Select all learning resources that support or are related to the topics covered in this learning resource. 

ITS Audience

By default, faculty, staff, and students are included. Remove those audiences who do not need this service. 

Keywords

Keywords are absolutely vital for accurate search results. The rules for them are simple: separate keywords with semicolons, and delimit keyword phrases by double quotes. For example:

  • giraffe; wildebeest; lion; meal; meals; ”predatory targets”;”good eats”


top

Alias Tab

Learning Resource Alias Tab

The convention for a learning resource is:

  • ITS/learn/nameoflearningresource

without a closing or opening slash, which is automatically supplied.



top

Schedule Tab

Learning Resource Schedule Tab
If you have a page that you wish to be reviewed periodically, select "Add to the CMS Refresh Report" and the page will be identified on the end date selected as a page that must be visited at least to change the end date. This is useful for pages that you know will require updates as time goes by, as well as a way to ensure that pages are reviewed by your contributors or editors on a regular basis.

top

Comment Tab

Learning Resource Comment Tab
Not required, but this is useful to anyone who wishes to make notes on the page regarding content to be edited, or dates checked, or anything else. For example, an error in content may be noted here and, once corrected, the comment may be removed or annotated to track the changes.

top

Templates Tab

As covered in the "Select a Template for Your Learning Resource Content" at the top of this page, be sure you've selected the template that you want to use: select ITS/Resource.aspx for the three-column page template, or ITS/Resource_full.aspx for the two-column version which gives you more space for images.

top

Category Tab

Learning Resource Category Tab
You have to select at least one taxonomic category and more than one if required. More than three might indicate that the service itself is too broad and may need subdividing.

And that's it. You've created a learning resource. Naturally, you may return to it time to time to update it, and this guide can be used for the editing process. Check it into the CMS when you've finished for the time being by clicking the page icon with the up-pointing green arrow. When you think it's ready for promotion to the production environment, click on the submit icon which is a page with a right-pointing green arrow. After review and approval, your page will be uploaded to the production server, indexed, and ready to go, sometimes in less than an hour.

Well done!



top

Training & Documentation


Quick and Dirty Minimal Guide to ITS CMS SmartForms for Services and Service Implementations


top